‘I’m A House N*gga’: Did Bill Maher Cross a Line During Ben Sasse Interview?

Is the “n-word” offensive, in any context?

That question will be put to the test in the next few days after Real Time host Bill Maher jokingly said tonight “I’m a house nigga” after guest Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse suggested his HBO host should visit Nebraska to “work in the fields.”

To be clear, Maher appeared to be absolutely joking and mocking the very concept that the n-word would offend (when the audience reacted as you’d expect). But in this hyper-partisan divide, there are two sets of people who are almost certain to be outraged: 1) Older African Americans who have historically had little patience with the hip-hop generation’s “reclaiming the word”; and 2) Conservatives eager to exemplify Maher’s casual use of a historically dangerous word as an example of a double standard.

Was Maher being racist? Didn’t seem so. But will some people be eager to be outraged over this casual joke? Almost certainly. But here’s a not-so-new rule: given it’s historical significance, if you are a white dude, it’s a good idea to never say the n-word, in any circumstance, comedic or otherwise.

Else one opens oneself to criticism, regardless of intention.

Watch the clip above, courtesy of HBO.

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